Will Hoge Entertains
December 9, 2017
Sometimes an artist can take you by surprise. I’ve heard the name Will Hoge before but never got the chance to listen to his music. I finally got the opportunity to listen to his latest record Anchors about a month ago and was hooked. When I heard he was coming to town, I knew I had to check him out.
Hoge and his tight three piece backing band played a great two-hour set at Musica in Akron on December 8th. It’s hard to put a label on Hoge’s musical style, but his influences are evident. Some tunes are reminiscent of the Black Crowes, others are a combination of Petty, Springsteen and Mellencamp, and some even have the Country feel of Merle Haggard. However, all of his songs are well-written and both sung and played with a passion that is rarely heard on the radio today.
The show started off with “The Reckoning” and “Last Thing That I Needed,” which featured Hoge on a Martin acoustic guitar. After switching guitars, he told the crowd, “This guitar is a Fender Telecaster and it’s a lot louder than the first one, so don’t be alarmed!” With that, he and the boys tore into “Better Off Now (That You’re Gone),” which was covered by Lady Antebellum a few years ago, and “Original Sin.”
He also spoke about the political situation in Alabama; Hoge said that he “didn’t want to say negative things about a candidate” but recalled that some of his friends including Jason Isbell are “fighting the good fight for the great state of Alabama,” as he launched into the politically-charged “I’m Still A Southern Man.”
A couple of times during the show, Hoge made his way over to the piano to play a few songs but would come back center stage to strap on an acoustic or his Telecaster.
Toward the end of the show, this fantastic storyteller asked if the audience if they could remember saying, “Who starts a show at ten o’clock? That’s too early!” Now some people say “Who starts a show at ten o’clock? That’s so late, I’ve got things to do!” He dedicated “Too Old To Die Young” to everyone, no matter “what side of the equation you are on.”
Not to shy away from controversial topics, Hoge also played “Jesus Came To Tennessee,” which references among other things The Westboro Baptist Church and children born out of wedlock, including Jesus. He also sang “Thoughts and Prayers,” which targets the NRA and politicians who do nothing after mass shooting except offer their thoughts and prayers.
It’s music that makes you think.
After a brief exit, the band came back and encored with a great version of Tom Petty’s “Listen To Her Heart, “A Little Bit Of Rust,” from his new album which features Sheryl Crow, and “Seventeen.”
Will Hoge is a great singer songwriter who has awesome stories to tell. I may be a little late coming to the party, but I’m on board now and I don’t plan on missing any of his shows when he comes back to town.
Opening the show was Dan Layus, who also played some heartfelt acoustic originals. One song that stood out was about a couple who lost their house to foreclosure. A second intriguing tune was from the perspective of being inside the mind of our current president. He ended his set with a nice cover of “What The World Needs Now.”
Photos and Review by Greg Drugan